As a journalist who has written about startups and entrepreneurs, and a PR rep who has worked on behalf of them, I’ve been on both ends of the media pitching spectrum. I’ve seen good pitches, bad pitches, simple and compelling pitches, and pitches that read like novels.
Here are a few takeaways I’ve learned when it comes to pitching to help your startup gain media attention.
Keep your pitch letter brief and succinct.
Journalists don’t have time to read through dozens of pitches; in fact, they usually skim them anyways. I typically keep my pitch letters to three short paragraphs. First, I tell them exactly what the story is. Then, I offer additional details. Finally, I highlight why the story would appeal to them specifically and offer sources.
Personalize your pitch.
You may be tempted to send out one mass email to everyone on your media list. Please don’t. Treat pitch letters like you’re sending a note to a friend, only keep it professional – each one should be personal and tailored specifically to them. Yes, it’s time-consuming. But it increases your chances of getting covered.
Entice them right away.
Your first sentence is everything. Explain clearly what the story is right off the bat and sell the journalist on it. I should be able to grasp what the story is at first glance of your pitch.
Know your facts.
Put the story in the context with additional facts or figures to give it some context. And make sure everything you say about the startup is factual. Back it up!
Learn about the journalist and show off your knowledge of him/her.
Show them that you’ve done your homework! I love it when a pitch compliments me on a previous story or blog post. Not only is it flattering, but it shows that you took the time to learn about me and what I cover, and you’ve put yourself in my shoes. Think about how your story fits into the journalist’s needs.
Following up on your pitch once is fine. After all, emails sometimes get lost in the shuffle. But I try not to call and simply ask “did you get my pitch?” It’s redundant. Instead, I’d ask them if they had a chance to read it, offer additional details (try to sweeten the deal!) and ask for feedback. However, I wouldn’t follow up more than once. There’s a difference between following up and pestering.
Be professional but spice up your pitch a bit.
Avoid any inappropriate or crude remarks, but show a little personality, wit and humour. We’re human after all. Spicing up your pitch will make your pitch stand out and increase your chances of piquing the media’s interest.
Image credit: by AJC1, via flickr.com.